23 March 2011

Why students sometimes don't get it

Increasingly we encounter students who can read perfectly well, but they can't "read" in any real sense. Here is a sample on Amazon from a bored student reviewing Ostler's first rate Empires of the Word.

this book is really boring I bought it for a class and I totally hate reading it. I'm half way through and I'm only on ch.5! The chapters are soooooooooo!!!! long! its riddiculous! this is a pretty thick book and it has really small writting! The author just talks over and over again about the same thing! Don't recommend it to read just for fun but if it is for a class then goodluck!

That's it. In its entirety. Another review said it read like "a textbook." Many books on Amazon get that tag. As near as I can make out what they really mean by "reads like a textbook" is that it is not a simple narrative, a story. And the chapters "are soooooooooo!!!! long!" Probably has big words too.

reminds me of the history grad student who told me he didn't like reading "whole books."

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At 23 March, 2011 22:21, Anonymous Maire said...

sigh. The toughest thing I found teaching writing history was that several students didn't like to write anything longer than a Facebook post or a tweet. If it helps, for a recent discussion I assigned two short readings and a *very* long "recommended" -- and about a third of the students read it! Ok, it was a lengthy description of a battler between the Irish and the Vikings, with tons of blood and gore and entrails, but they didn't know about the entrails till they did the reading.

At 25 March, 2011 22:03, Blogger Clemens said...

I think I am going to teach by using a stream of You Tube clips, interspersed with Power Point notes written in Twitter talk.

They might be able to relate.

And then you find the rare student who devours 19th cent. lit and wants more.

At 14 April, 2011 12:04, Blogger Steve Muhlberger said...

I have to say that now that I am in my 60s I can get the gist of most academic books without reading all the throat clearing, etc. But the mountains I read up to age 40-some...

At 14 April, 2011 12:29, Blogger Clemens said...

Yes - we are all slowing down. OTOH, I am plowing through a lot of free 19th cent stuff with my Kindle.

BTW, welcome to Sententiae Steve. You were at Kalamazoo the last time I was there but I didn't get a chance to introduce myself. How are things on Mediev-L?

Nice presentation you made, if I recall. I was going to go this year but at the last moment started to fall asleep at unexpected moments and decided I'd better get this checked out.


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